According to our saints, it is quite possible to will the conception of a child capable of manifesting the highest ideals of Hindu Dharma. The mother's state of mind during her pregnancy, the living environment, as well as her own spirituality, markedly influence the child that she is to bring forth. For example, Swami Vivekananda's mother ardently prayed to Lord Siva for a divine child. The result was that she brought forth the great Swami Vivekananda.
If a mother is surrounded by peace, calm and beauty, if her thoughts are pure and noble, she would give birth to a child with noble qualities. Thus, the nature and character of the child to be born depends much upon the mother's thoughts, her feelings, her environment and the ideals cherished by her during pregnancy.
During pregnancy the mother should be careful to partake only of Sattwic and nourishing foods. She should be regular in her daily prayer, Bhajan and Japa. She should read books like the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavata. If she is a devotee of the Divine Life Society, she should read the works of our Divine Master, especially his biography, From Man to God-man, Sivananda's Gospel of Divine Life and Guidance in Daily Life.
The mother-to-be should avoid social gatherings, moving about freely in streets, visiting places of gambling and vulgar dancing, and places where liquor is consumed. The unholy vibrations in these places are sure to have an adverse effect on her and on the child to be born.
She should be careful not to take harmful drugs, tobacco, liquor and impure foods. She should always remember that she is moulding a new body that is to carry a soul. Her every thought, word and action will affect the child to be born.
We see today many children that are not normal, either physically or mentally. This may be due to the above reasons.
The development of the child from birth onwards is an ongoing process. Thus, parenting also is an ongoing process. The guidelines given in this section should be followed consistently throughout the period of growth, and will apply to any given time. Parents should handle the problems of their Spiritual Darlings by understanding the various stages of their growth from childhood to adulthood.
A toddler cannot be punished for playing with electricity or with fire, as he does not understand the consequences. Spiritual Darlings are often punished for things that they do not understand or are even aware of. This makes them confused and fearful.
Spiritual Darlings are curious beings, learning through the senses of touch, sound, sight and taste. Their intellects are ever expanding. Try to understand your Spiritual Darlings and teach with patience and love. With the older Spiritual Darling, begin to reason, and teach through open communication and not so much through commands. Consistent disciplining through love and reason goes further than army tactics.
The adolescent years are the most turbulent years of growth, and very stressful on the parent-child relationship. Remember that during this period the children are neither little Spiritual Darlings nor adults. They are more independent than Spiritual Darlings, but not totally independent of their parents. They need to be understood within this framework.
Living the spiritual way is of paramount importance during these turbulent years, as it is the time of identity formation of the individual. During this period peer group and significant models of leadership have a major impact on future development. The role of spirituality within the family, and the influence of the Divine Life Society on our adolescent Spiritual Darlings will help contribute towards an integrated image as unique persons.
Attendance at Satsangs, Yoga Camps and all the major functions of the Society are important, as are daily home Satsangs, maintenance of the spiritual diary and reading of our Divine Master's books. Special importance must be given to practice of Brahmacharya, as the adolescent period is the period of rapid sexual development through puberty into adulthood.
That our parents are our first God is a basic teaching of Hinduism. Obedience to God and Guru is impossible without obedience to parents. Parents must discuss this with their Spiritual Darlings, as they are now at an age when they are intellectually able to understand the reasoning behind this injunction.